You can’t have it all. You can’t do it all, either.
When we have too much on our plate at work, it can result in us performing poorly at tasks we would otherwise be good at if we weren’t up to our ears in obligations. If only there was a way to relieve ourselves of some of those responsibilities so we could better focus our efforts to be more productive.
Oh wait, there is. It’s called delegation.
Delegation occurs when a person of authority assigns work to someone else. However, the person who delegated the work is still responsible for the outcome.
Simply put, delegating is having someone else do your work for you. Sounds easy, right? Wrong.
A lot of people are hesitant to delegate work. Whether they enjoy doing the task being delegated or don’t trust someone else to do it correctly, it can be tricky for some. However, a manager might experience a time where they have no choice but to pass the torch.
How to delegate in 7 easy steps
Delegation can be difficult for some. If you are one of those people, there is nothing wrong with that. It simply means you care about your career. However, that doesn’t make it acceptable for you to be drowning in work.
Here are seven strategies for learning how to delegate to become more productive at work when facing heavy workloads and tight deadlines.
Let it go
I might sound like a hippie without a care in the world, but when delegating, you need to learn to let things go.
Whether it be because of the dedication you have to your career or you don’t trust other people on your team, letting go of your work and letting someone else take over is one of the hardest parts of delegating. If you don’t learn to let go, you can’t properly delegate, and your personal productivity will continue to struggle.
You don’t need to hand off your top priorities right away.
Start small. Delegate a few little tasks here and there and see how your team members handle them. Once you have a better grasp of that and the trust builds, you can delegate more serious responsibilities.
Learn to prioritize
Any to-do list can be a scary sight until you learn how to prioritize at work.
Create a system that divides tasks according to the skills and time they require. This will help you see which tasks you should be completing yourself and which ones are acceptable to delegate to someone else.
Provide reasoning and instructions
The process of completing a certain task might seem simple to you, but that might not be the case for others.
Make sure the person you are delegating your work to understand why they are doing it and how they should go about it. If you follow a certain set of directions, give them some guidelines.
If you need something by a certain date, send emails at the best time of day and give them a deadline. If you are leading a meeting, set an agenda to have a productive meeting. Be proactive when briefing them to avoid any problems that might arise due to confusion and lack of communication.
Identify strengths in workers
By exhibiting strong leadership qualities, you can easily observe your team to see where they succeed and where they fall short.
This is especially important when delegating work. You wouldn’t want to assign an Excel project to someone who looked at you like you asked them to defeat Godzilla when all you did was tell them to organize a spreadsheet.
Don’t just give the work to whoever has the time to do it. Understand each team members’ strengths, weaknesses, and skillsets, and delegate them work that aligns best with those qualities. This will also help you remain consistent when delegating. If you keep giving one person the same task over and over, they will only master it faster, potentially taking the task off your plate for good.
Have faith, but check-in
Once you have briefed a team member on how to do a certain task, let them do their thing. They might put their own spin on it that will make it easier for them. Trust them to get the job done.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t check in on their progress. Get to know their methods so you can understand the timeline a little better. Project management software helps keep team members accountable and gives all stakeholders insight into the status of tasks throughout the project lifecycle.
Make room for teaching new skills
There may come a time in the delegation process where you realize nobody on your team has the necessary skills for carrying out a certain task. No big deal. Just show them.
Don’t hesitate to set aside some time to teach someone a completely new skill. The investment will all be worth it in the long run.
Don’t forget about feedback!
Like a lot of other business activities, don’t forget about feedback.
One more time for the people in the back.
Do. Not. Forget. About. Feedback.
Feedback is crucial to an effective delegation process, as it boosts employee engagement. If someone exceeded your expectations, show gratitude and make comments on methods they used that you admired. If they fell short, offer some constructive criticism.
Similarly, ask team members for feedback on the delegation process. Be an open book. Make yourself available before, during, and after the process. It may seem like things are running smoothly on your end, but the other side might be struggling. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
A good go-to when asking for feedback is creating a survey. Use survey software to create, circulate, and collect data from a survey.
Delegating isn’t easy for some managers. Letting go of the work you enjoy or projects you think others will struggle with is a big step. However, learning how to delegate with these strategies will help you balance your workload, maintaining your productivity, and sanity, from nine to five.
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